Documentary Review: Gaining Altitude – The Mosquito Reborn

From the mossiedoc website.

In the past three years we have seen the world’s airworthy Mosquito population rise from none to the stage where we now have two “Wooden Wonders” gracing the skies.

It is always fascinating to gain an insight into the restoration, history and operations of rare and important types such as the Mosquito. Up until recently however there had been relativley little in the way of footage depicting restoration and flight testing work about the Canadian Mosquito VR976.

Luckily this changed when it was announced that a documentry team were in the process of putting together a film tracking the restoration of the aircraft right through to its first flight. Following a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter the project is now available to view.

Available on DVD worldwide, there is also an on demand version that can be purchased through online video site Vimeo. I took advantage of the latter just before Christmas and was so glad I did.

The hour and a half film covers more or less everything you would want to know about the project. Cutting between the history of the Mosquito and restoration progress the film gives the viewer a very real insight into the attention to detail required to complete the restoration.

Three Mosquito histories are told, first off the more general type history is covered, including interviews with wartime pilots as well as footage from the de Havilliand Aircraft Museum in London Colney.

Then there is the history the restoration aircraft herself, VR796. Coming over from the UK in the late 40s, she was transferred to Spartan Air Services, who were, at the time responsible for mapping Canada and needed replacements for their P-38 fleet. This segment of the film is accompanied by some fantastic footage of the Spartan fleet operating during the Mapping process.

The third historical element of the film looks at the aircraft which the Mosquito has been painted up to represent, “F-Freddie”. Freddie had the impressive claim of being the aircraft which carried out the most bombing missions of any aircraft in world war 2.

It was after this impressive service life that the aircraft, whose crew trained in Canada, came across the Atlantic to perform a publicity tour of Canada. Sadly it was during one of these publicity displays that F-Freddie clipped a post on top of a control tower during a low pass and was sadly lost along with its crew. (A brief history of this tour was provided in the comments section.)

All of these historical elements are complimented by interviews with ex Mosquito crew members as well as others who are responsible for keeping Mosquitos in good condition around the world.

In many ways though, where this documentary really shines is the restoration team itself, watching each member of the Victoria Air Maintenance team perform their roles is a fascinating experience.

This all comes to a conclusion with the arrival of Steve Hinton towards the end of the film, who will be the aircrafts test pilot, hearing his thoughts on the flying characteristics provide great insight.

The film concludes with a brief look at the aircrafts debut display at the Abbotsford airshow in August. This includes interviews with members of the public who have not seen a Mosquito fly for some years, as well as ex Mosquito crew.

Overall the film is an excellent production, a good mix of history, interviews as well as some wonderful footage of Mosqutios past and present. My only thought is perhaps it could have been just a little longer and allowed more time for flying footage, though it has since come to my attention that the DVD version of the film does come with an extended flying segment, as well as a cockpit tour and extended interviews.

A must watch for any aviation fan!

For more information on the documentary and details for watching it, head over the teams Facebook Page.

3 thoughts on “Documentary Review: Gaining Altitude – The Mosquito Reborn

  1. Chris Pett says:

    A few corrections to this review. The crew for F-Freddie that were making the bond tour were :
    “Freddie’s pilot that day was F/Lt. J. Maurice W. Briggs, DFM, DFC, and DSO. Just two years earlier, Briggs had left Calgary with his newly earned wings from #37 S.F.T.S.
    Seated beside Briggs on his return to Calgary was F/O John C. Baker, DFC and Bar. Having successfully navigated them to Calgary, Baker could do no more than hang on and try to enjoy the ride as Briggs dove for the streets of downtown Calgary.” Quote:,freddie.html

    Briggs had trained in Calgary, both he and Baker are buried there.


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